Fo­cus re­turns to lenders

Mis­sion chiefs due in Athens to­mor­row for re­view ahead of Hol­lande visit

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Hav­ing passed a multi-bill of mea­sures through Par­lia­ment, the gov­ern­ment has now turned its at­ten­tion back to for­eign cred­i­tors who must ap­prove the re­lease of 2 bil­lion eu­ros in res­cue loans and launch a crit­i­cal re­view of Greece’s fi­nances and re­form progress.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Greece’s lenders – the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank, the Euro­pean Sta­bil­ity Mech­a­nism and the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund – are ex­pected to re­turn to Athens to­mor­row to start a re­view that, Greece hopes, will end suc­cess­fully, paving the way for the launch of talks on debt re­lief.

The au­di­tors are to scour Greece’s fi­nances too, fol­low­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of the draft bud­get. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos is ex­pected to re­quest flex­i­bil­ity, ar­gu­ing that the re­ces­sion es­ti­mates in the draft bud­get – 2.3 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct this year and 1.3 per­cent next year – are overly pes­simistic. His aim is to elim­i­nate some of the more con­tentious aus­ter­ity mea­sures that Greece has sus­pended, such as plans for a 23 per­cent value added tax on pri­vate schools and higher taxes on rental in­come. As re­gards pen­sion re­form, an­other con­tro­ver­sial is­sue, the gov­ern­ment is keen to con­vince cred­i­tors to al­low the in­clu­sion of cer­tain prior ac­tions in a broader over­haul of the pen­sion sys­tem, to come later.

As re­gards the 2-bil­lion-euro loan tranche, the Euro Work­ing Group is to con­vene on Wed­nes­day and may rec­om­mend the im­me­di­ate re­lease of the money or may ask Greece to leg­is­late more ac­tions from the first list of prior ac­tions. The multi-bill ap­proved by 154 coali­tion MPs early on Satur­day in­cluded about a third of those mea­sures, though Tsakalo­tos said they were ad­e­quate to se­cure the fund­ing.

Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras is also brac­ing for a busy week, cul­mi­nat­ing with a visit to Athens by French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande on Thurs­day and Fri­day. Hol­lande, who is to ad­dress Par­lia­ment on Fri­day, will be trav­el­ing with seven top gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and sev­eral French en­trepreneurs. A key aim is to test the po­ten­tial for French in­volve­ment in Greece’s pri­va­ti­za­tion pro­gram with Train­ose and EYDAP among the as­sets draw­ing French in­ter­est.

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